The Children’s Justice Symposium is an annual conference that provides a venue for professionals involved with Utah Children’s Justice Centers to gather to discuss issues and concerns and to learn about a variety of relevant topics. National speakers are brought in for training and discussion. The conference is designed to facilitate interdisciplinary communication and cooperation, and to capitalize on the strength of the team approach.
Written by Missy Larsen – Outdoing Chief of Staff Attorney General’s Office.
One call — late in the evening on Dec. 30, 2013 — changed my life. “This is Sean Reyes. Are you available to meet?” Although we were both candidates in 2012, we did not know each other well. I knew I liked him as a candidate, had voted for him and was disgusted by the negative campaign that was launched against him, but not much more.
We met, we talked, he inspired and on Jan. 3, 2014, I entered the Utah Attorney General’s Office as chief communications officer. Within one day I realized that I was joining an extraordinary executive team made up of individuals from inside the Attorney General’s Office and the private sector. Together, we faced the stark reality that deep mistrust within and surrounding the Attorney General’s Office in early 2014 would take much more than simple solutions. Each complex situation, coming at us at light speed, and well past regular business hours, demanded high ethical standards, excellent legal work, in-depth collaboration and the realization that immediate implementation of officewide tracking, management and systems was critical.
The changes became evident with outside organizations noticing the excellence. In 2015, the Community Foundation of Utah, in partnership with the Daniels Fund and the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at the U. of U. Eccles School of Business, highlighted the Utah Attorney General’s Office as one of three finalists for the Utah Ethical Leadership Awards in Government for embodying best practices in ethical behavior. This award was clearly amazing, and we took a breath for a moment to realize that the hard work and long hours were worth it.
Shortly after entering the office, I took over the chief of staff duties for Reyes. I have had the rare opportunity to see him in the most difficult circumstances, and he is the real thing. He is honest, ethical and sincerely wants to help others in any way possible. His unique heritage with leaders throughout his ancestry, combined with his desire to do the right thing under any circumstance, is truly remarkable.
With gratitude I remember day-after-day of hard work that led to numerous other awards and recognitions, including four category wins and a BOSS award in 2017 Best of State, 2016 National Association of Attorneys General Best Brief Award, three category wins in 2016 Best of State, four category wins and the BOSS award in 2015 Best of State, Governor’s Award for Excellence for Outstanding Public Service for the AG Child Protection Division, and the 2015 Utah State Bar Pro Bono Commission Law Firm of the Year Award.
As I leave the Utah Attorney General’s Office to be more present with family and pursue an outstanding private sector opportunity, I reflect on the past three years and eight months and realize how much I have gained as I have worked with Reyes, his incredible executive team and remarkably resilient expert attorneys and staff who have continually shown me greatness. They are true public servants.
Although I wish I had the space to list all of the highlights of the Reyes administration to date, I happily leave with the knowledge that together we have made a difference in teen suicide intervention, opioid addictions, human trafficking and white collar fraud. I am most fulfilled to have helped return trust in the Attorney General’s Office, issue-by-issue and solution-by solution. I leave more respectful of law enforcement, more sure that civility exists, and more understanding that our state and nation depend on sounds principles of law.
Over the past four months I have worked closely with Reyes to put together his next team filled with dynamic current and new leaders. This week, I humbly hand the chief of staff reins to my excellent replacement — Ric Cantrell. His natural skill set and experience in the Utah State Senate since 2004 will serve the office and Utah citizens well.
First published by Deseret News, August 20 2017.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office sponsors the Boys & Girls Club of Utah County NetSmartz and its efforts to educate children, parents, and community with internet safety presentations.
The Medicaid Fraud Control Unit’s (MFCU) mission is to protect the integrity of the Medicaid program and the safety and property of the citizens of the State of Utah through skilled detection, proactive investigation, prevention, prosecution, and financial recovery.
- Prosecute providers in violation of Utah law
- Stop or prevent the loss of Medicaid funds attributable to fraud, waste, or abuse
- Recover Medicaid funds lost to fraud, waste, or abuse
- Make recommendations to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse from recurring in the Medicaid system
Examples of Fraud
- See also the False Claims Act (see Utah Code Ann. §26-20-1, et seq.)
- Billing for services not rendered
- Intentionally billing for services at a rate higher than allowed
- Billing for ineligible patients
- Financial exploitation of vulnerable adults
- Pharmaceutical-related cases
- Unlawful prescribing or dispensing of controlled substances
- Actions by the drug manufacturers that are fraudulent
Abuse & Neglect
Abuse or neglect occurs when a caregiver knowingly causes physical harm or fails to provide needed services or protection to a patient.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigates and prosecutes patient abuse and neglect cases when the caregiver is paid through the Medicaid program. The Office is also authorized to investigate abuse or neglect of patients residing in board and care facilities, regardless of the payment source.
Contact us by calling 801-281-1259
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Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Utah State Senator Daniel Thatcher and representatives from the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), Utah Office of Education, and the School Safety and Crisis Line Commission unveiled the SafeUT Crisis & Safety Tipline for Utah students in 2016. The SafeUT Mobile App provides students confidential and anonymous two-way communication with SafeUT crisis counselors or school staff via one-touch options to “Call Crisisline,” “Chat Crisisline,” or “Submit a Tip.” Students using the mobile app will connect directly to a UNI crisis counselor at the UNI CrisisLine and those calling will be routed to the same. For those who do not have access to a smart phone, the Lifeline number 1-800-273-8255 is also supported by UNI.
“Statistics devastatingly show that suicide is the number one cause of death of Utah children ages 10-17. In addition, our schools and communities are facing crisis-level safety concerns,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Because of such alarming realities statewide, our office has worked closely and in a very bipartisan manner with legislators, agencies, parents and advocates to find the right solution. Today, we unveil the SafeUT mobile app for 24/7 crisis intervention and emotional support to any student facing mental health crisis or safety threats. We are both excited about and hopeful that such a resource will provide a lifeline to students who feel they have nowhere else to turn and that life is not worth living anymore.”
After studying the issue, the Utah Attorney General’s Office and Senator Thatcher proposed legislation in 2014 to form a commission to explore solutions. The legislation passed and the commission was led to the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), already renowned for their excellence in crisis call support. In 2015, the School Safety and Crisis Line (SB 175) sponsored by Sen. Daniel Thatcher and Rep. Steve Eliason passed the Utah State Legislature designating UNI as the crisis provider and an active commission, chaired out of the AG’s office, for implementation. Senator Thatcher chose to sponsor the legislation after recognizing the statewide epidemic that had personally impacted him numerous times throughout his life.
“I was 11 years old the first time I lost a classmate to suicide, and at the age of 16, I lost one of my closest friends,” said Senator Thatcher. “Every Utahn has felt the impact of suicide. It is the single deadliest crisis facing our youth. This commission and the work we have done is the only answer big enough to solve this problem. This is the hope our kids have been waiting for and I am deeply grateful to be part of such a comprehensive and collaborative effort which has created the SafeUT mobile app where an anonymous chat, text or call could save your life or the life of someone you love.”
Students can download the SafeUT Mobile app at any time – and will receive training on how to use SafeUT Services by their school administrators. The first round of Utah school administrators were trained over the past six months on school implementation. Utah schools are currently participating or will have the opportunity to participate over the next year, but it is not mandatory. As schools enroll in the program, an online tool will be shared to allow students to report crisis or crime through their school’s website.
Attorney General’s Office Coordinates Research Effort with Human Trafficking Expert Dr. Laura Lederer That Will Add Utah Statistics to National Research Study & Training
SALT LAKE CITY Jan. 11, 2016 – Victims of human trafficking often go unnoticed and the crime unreported, despite interactions with various types of healthcare providers. In an effort to build awareness of human trafficking among prosecutors, investigators, and Utah’s health care community, the Utah Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force will host two focus groups involving healthcare providers and human trafficking survivors on January 27, 2016. The Utah focus group session results will add Utah statistics to a national study underway that will support policy and program recommendations for healthcare providers to enhance their roles as identifiers of trafficking victims.
The Health Consequences of Human Trafficking and their Implications for Health Care Providers is a national study undertaken by Global Centurion Foundation President Laura Lederer, J.D., a subject matter expert on human trafficking for several U.S. government agencies. The study interviewed 107 sex trafficking survivors in 11 cities across the U.S. and found 99.1 percent had physical health problems and 98 percent had mental health problems. The study also found that 87.8 percent had contact with a health care provider while they were trafficked.
Additionally, Attorney General Sean Reyes, the Office of the Utah Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) plan to host a tuition-free, one and one-half day training for prosecutors and investigators on human trafficking. This training will take place on January 28 and 29 in Salt Lake City.
“This study humanizes victim suffering and provides common physical and mental health symptoms and other warning signs that can assist medical professionals in recognizing possible trafficking victims,” explained Attorney General Sean Reyes. “It also provides recommendations for new policy and programs, including training for health care providers, and suggestions for referral and reporting to help these victims of modern day slavery obtain broader criminal justice assistance.”
According to Lederer, “The hope is that this national study and the training that will come from it will enable prevention and improve interaction between healthcare providers and law enforcement to bring more perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.”
Kathy Franchek, assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Laura Lederer will lead the two focus groups scheduled to take place onJanuary 27 at Salt Lake County Government Center located at 2001 South State Street in Salt Lake City.
Utah Office of the Attorney General & Stop Hunger Now Package 15,000 Meals for Charity
SALT LAKE CITY – Dec. 31, 2015 – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes with his family and staff joined volunteers for Stop Hunger Now over the holidays to package 15,000 meals for charity. The event was hosted by the Utah Attorney General’s Office in the Utah State Capitol Rotunda on Dec. 22, 2015.
Since it’s founding in 1998, Stop Hunger Now has provided more than 200,000,000 meals and life-changing aid to 71 countries. In just under two hours, a group of 30 to 40 volunteers can package 10,000 nutrient-rich meals for the undernourished globally.
National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute to Host Human Trafficking Training in Salt Lake City
Registration Deadline January 15, 2016
SALT LAKE CITY – Dec. 21, 2015 – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is pleased to announce that the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute (NAGTRI) of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is conducting a tuition free, one and one-half day training for prosecutors and investigators on human trafficking. The training will take place on January 28 — 29, 2016, at the Salt Lake City Council Chambers. Attendance is limited to prosecutors and investigators – and attendees must submit their registration by January 15, 2016.
“We are very excited to partner with the National Association of Attorneys General to provide this innovative, high quality trafficking disruption training,” said Attorney General Reyes. “One of our goals is to help build a network of local, national and international experts to eradicate the evils of human trafficking in Utah and around the world. This is not a uniquely Democrat or Republican issue, it is a humanitarian issue — a health and safety issue that needs everyone’s support to be effective. The best chance we have of combating this is to continue to work together.”
“We support Attorney General Reyes’ commitment to fighting human trafficking,” said Chris Toth, NAAG Deputy Executive Director and NAGTRI Director. “This NAGTRI training will ensure that Utah’s law enforcement will have the knowledge and tools necessary to rescue victims and to investigate and prosecute these crimes.”
The first day of training will include an overview of human trafficking; an introduction to the international, national and state legal frameworks for trafficking in persons; partnership models; victim issues; investigatory and interviewing techniques; and prosecutorial theories and practices. The second day will include a discussion on prosecutorial theories and practices, a case-study based ethics discussion and a workshop on developing a human trafficking prosecution.
While tuition-free, attendees will be responsible for paying for their own food, parking, and transportation expenses. The Attorney General’s Office will provide lunch on January 28. There will be a limited number of scholarships for hotel accommodations at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel, provided to those who live more than 50 miles away.
For more information and to register please visit https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/human-trafficking-training.
Focus on Joint Cross-Border Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking & Internet Crimes
SALT LAKE CITY – Oct. 26, 2015 – Attorney General Sean Reyes recently helped lead a delegation of state attorneys general from the United States to Mexico City, Mexico, as part of a criminal justice conference focused on improving coordinated law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking, drug trafficking, counterfeiting and internet security crimes. Last year, Reyes hosted his Mexican state counterparts along with the federal Attorney Generals of Mexico and El Salvador for similar training in Park City, Utah, as part of a program funded by the U.S. State Department at no cost to state taxpayers. His team will also conduct an online legal training this November for colleagues around the world.
“In today’s global environment, the definition of a ‘border state’ has been greatly expanded not only in terms of trade and economy – but also crime,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Criminal elements in Mexico smuggle drugs, people and counterfeit products into the U.S. while money and weapons are smuggled back into Mexico. Criminals from the U.S. are often complicit in these illicit activities whether or not they are from states that share a physical border with Mexico. The more we work with law enforcement partners in Mexico and other Latin American countries to improve information sharing and training for investigations and prosecutions, the greater the likelihood we can take criminals off the streets in our respective nations.”
The Binational State Attorney General Exchange was hosted by the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) Alliance Partnership and funded by the U.S. State Department. Attorney General Reyes’ participation was at no cost to the Utah taxpayer. The conference was attended by seven other U.S. state attorneys general, 26 Mexican state attorneys general and Mexico’s federal Attorney General Arely Gomez Gonzalez.
“I spent some very productive one-on-one time with General Gonzalez discussing legal issues and human trafficking – and this investment will result in greater protections for the citizens of Utah,” added Reyes.
Attorney General Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre of the Mexican State of Guanajuato stated, “Utah and the United States have a strong leader and great lawyer in Sean Reyes,” noting also that Reyes’ bilingual skills are an asset to the training program.
In addition to specific criminal topics, the U.S. attorneys general spent significant time training their Mexican counterparts on the nuts and bolts of criminal prosecution and defense issues as Mexico undergoes an overhaul of its’ criminal justice system. Pursuant to a 2008 Amendment in the Mexican Constitution, Mexico is transitioning away from an inquisitorial trial system to an adversarial one like that seen in the United States. The U.S. delegation was hosted at the Mexican Supreme Court where former Ambassador and now Supreme Court Justice Eduardo Medina Mora implored the delegation to continue helping Mexico.
“Eduardo is an old friend and we’ve worked together for years on economic and education issues – and it’s exciting to now work on justice reform together, “said Reyes. “What they are undertaking in Mexico is Herculean and if we can help them more quickly establish a stable adversarial system in which their citizens can start to have faith, it will help both countries. Mexico will benefit for obvious reasons and we benefit because of improved collaboration in jointly fighting crime.”
The highlight of the conference for Attorney General Reyes was a tour of a heavily guarded secret sanctuary for survivors of human trafficking. The Mexican government has made a priority of counseling, therapy, training and long-term resources for survivors of trafficking – some of whom are key witnesses in large trafficking cases.
“I was very impressed by the facility as a ‘sanctuary or safe house’ model and I look forward to further evaluating how we might be able to create such a facility to better help trafficking survivors in Utah and the United States,” said Reyes.
Attorney General Reyes was invited to return to Mexico this week to lead a U.S. Delegation to the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce Mexico Cumbre de Negocios Business Summit – and to speak on human trafficking and the Rule of Law in the Mexican justice transition. Other event speakers include Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Reyes will be unable to participate due to pressing cases in Utah, but thanks the hosts for the invitation.
“I’m flattered to be invited to lead a U.S. delegation to an event featuring the President and former Prime Minister of these great nations, but there’s always a balance my first priority is to the critical work of protecting Utah and its citizens and I’m needed here more this week.” concluded Reyes.